Events

EventDateDistance (miles)Organiser / RegionComments
Dorset 1002016/05/28101.7LDWAGreat event & 7th Hundred completion
South Pennine 242016/02/2724LDWA / South PenninesGreat gritstone running and prime bog-trotting!
Anglezarke Amble2016/02/1425LDWA / West PenninesArduous romp in the bog & mud! But fun all the same.
Round Rotherham2015/10/1750Rotherham Harriers and Athletics ClubFirst time on this course and really enjoyed it. Good weather.
Waterways '50'2015/10/357Hobo PacersActually 57, not 50 miles, but good event all the same.
Anglezarke Amble2015/02/1425LDWA / West PenninesPB !! 5:53!

 

Moel Famau 9/1/16

The forecast had predicted 90% Heavy rain.

I sat in the car at the layby above Loggerheads and listened to the 90% certain rainfall hammering on the roof. It was 2.30pm with not much daylight left – time to get a move on. I was wearing-in new shoes and needed the run. I also needed to start hill training so it was important to get out of the car and face the 100% actual rain.

I set off on my usual – and favourite – run; up through the wood over to Deborah’s well and via tracks and fields to Pantymwyn. The ground was saturated and the mud deep and slippery, but the shoes have excellent traction, even on a couple of short but treacherous descents. Down through the trailer park to the chapel and down further to the footbridge by the telephone box.

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The river was flowing swiftly, and it was almost dark. The next stage is tricky – a steep ascent on a muddy cambered path, but again the shoes gripped well. The rain was easing and as I crossed the forest and descended towards Cilcain I had to decide on my route back – either along the Leete Path, over the shoulder of Moel Famau, or over the summit itself.

I chose the latter…

The track up to the ridge path was mostly a stream, and in the upper reaches muddy. I refreshed my headtorch batteries and pushed on. I generally use the path below the ridge and take the steep climb up a grassy bank below the summit, but I suspected that would be water-logged today, so used the ridge route which turned out be a very boggy choice!

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As I climbed the final rocky slope I entered cloud and mizzle, my headtorch beam reflected back off the haze. The wind and rain picked up as I passed the wall of the observation tower and I could not see anything of the tower itself.

Once out of the cloud I was able to pick up the pace on the descent to Bwlch Penbarras. The lights of Ruthin were amazingly clear against a jet-black night and, though raining steadily, the going was quite pleasurable. I jogged down the road back to Loggereheads and up the final hill to the car. I sat inside and changed shoes and removed outer gear – and listened to the 100% certain rain on the roof. And I smiled.

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Whinfell Forest New Year 2016

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Helen and I enjoy spending New Year at Center Parcs; a perfect way to charge the batteries up ready for a new term. Up until this year we had opted for the Sherwood Forest location but after a quick visit to Whinfell during the summer to visit my daughter and family we decided to book for there instead.

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I like to get out and about exploring the area in and around these parks and since I knew nothing of the woods and countryside surrounding Whinfell there was much for me to do over the course of two short runs.

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Day 1 – West & South
The Western, Northern and Eastern sides of the park have a ROW running right by the perimeter fence on the external side – this links to a handful of paths which radiate out into the neighbouring countryside. I headed up and over Quarrystone Bank and down to the farmland below. Spotting a tarmac road at the other side of the field I headed for this and proceeded South to the road at Low Dykes. I’d guessed I must be on private land since the tarmac road just showed as a track on the OS map, so I made to exit ASAP. As I padded along an SUV came speeding up the same lane towards me and, sure enough, the driver – who looked every inch the landowner – told me that I was on private land but that I was ok to carry on. We had a quick chat and I was on my way.

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When I arrived at the road another car pulled up! This time the occupants were seeking directions to Clifton. Not being local I used my smartphone map to locate the village and they were soon on their way.

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It was then a schlep along the road, past Wetheriggs and by the Ling Plantation to Cliburn Moss National Nature Reserve. Here I headed North to South Whinfell farm. The ROW took a little finding through the farm buildings but I soon was on Leacet Hill where there is an entrance onto the Center Parcs estate. (8 miles)

Day 2 – North & East
I headed out of the park and turned right, hugging the perimeter fence until I reached the lane near Salter Hill. Mostly a good track there were plenty of juicy sections to test concentration. At the lane I turned North and crossed under the A66, heading right to Eden Bridge. The river itself had returned to something like it’s normal width after the recent flooding, but the fields carried plenty of evidence of the debris that had caught up in fences and hedges.

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On the OS 1:25000 map I’d spotted “Aerial Ropeway” at GR 604283 and was intrigued enough to try and find it, which indeed I did. A very sturdy contraption which appeared in good repair – the ‘rope’ headed straight into a hut on the other side of the river.
There didn’t appear to be a riverside path so I returned to the road, backtracked to the A66 junction but carried on along the minor road to Woodside where I took the trail running North to the River Eamont. Here is marked a ford on the map and whilst I didn’t expect to be able to cross it I wondered if indeed there was one. The track ends abruptly at a fence just a short way from the river and whilst there was some visible ‘wear’ by the river’s edge, a ford did not look likely; hence the fence, I guess?
I returned to the road and carried on to the A66 at Lane End/Highbarn. Just 250 meters East along the A66 is a track that runs South and heads towards the main Center Parcs arrivals lodge. The A66 is a very busy – and fast – road and great care was needed to safely cover these 250 meters. (9 miles)

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Waterways 50

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After a very busy year at work to date I found myself without a qualifying 50 for the 2016 LDWA Hundred, so looking through the SIEntries website I found this event in the Retford area, which seemed ideal. As it turned out it was an odd event but very enjoyable in its own way. Canal towpaths and river banks for almost all the route, one checkpoint had been moved which added 3 miles to a route which was already 54 miles! Mild weather and little breeze made for good running and I felt happy that I’d kept the running up until the end.

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Good provision at the checkpoints but very little at the end – just a bowl of microwaved vegetable soup. The organisation was a little sloppy and route-description non-existent, but I’d done my prep and knew the route apart from a few diversions not evident from the OS Map (and not mentioned by the organisers).

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The course was flat – very little you could call a hill anywhere on the route – and mostly along good paths and trails. I especially enjoyed the night running and teamed up with a lady called Lisa from Hampshire – we ran more or less together for the last 20 miles and she was great company.

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I was very comfortable with the distance and my shoes – the Leadville 100’s – were comfortable and coped easily with the mostly hard surfaces.

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The 50-mile distance was running alongside others of 30 and 100 miles and in a review later the organiser admitted his resources had been stretched to cover all this and stay awake for three days!

In the end I really enjoyed this run and will look to do it again. So, thanks to the organisers – I’ll be back.

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Beatles Museum, Liverpool

It may be a story that most of us know only too well but it’s such a strong recent memory that we can react emotionally to many aspects as if it were happening now.

The Beatles Museum at Albert Dock, Liverpool, is outstanding at bringing these moments to you in remarkably well-constructed settings; The Casbah, Cavern, NEMS record store, inside the Yellow Submarine, John and Yoko’s bed-in, John’s famous white ‘Imagine’piano. These and many more are recreated with care and attention to detail.

It’s a good two-hour visit with audio guides in with the £14.95 charge (£11.50 for us oldies). Top notch.

Deeside Circular

Delightful ride through Cheshire and borderlands. Ecclestone, Pulford, Ewloe, Northop, Shotton, Stanney, Wervin and back to Chester. 47 miles

Marcothon 2014 / RunEveryDayDecember

So, Marcothon 2014 and RunEveryDayDecember events are over. These are the first of such events I’ve entered, where you join a virtual community chasing a common goal – in this case to run every day in the month of December 2014 – and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In the case of Marcothon 2014, named after Marco Consani – winner of the 2014 Lakeland 100 race, you must run a minimum of 3 miles each and every day in December (or 25 minutes for the faster set). No treadmills and no indoor substitutes such as stairs! REDD is mentored by Tony Allen and who leads by clocking up impressive mileage every day and regularly supports the online community.

Both communities have active Facebook groups and Marcothon keeps track of entrants via Strava, which means you need to record your run accurately and upload the data afterwards (or enter the details manually). In fact these groups have provided a real sense of ‘community’ with timely messages of support from unfamiliar names who some become virtual running buddies.

The execution of the task of running a minimum of three miles every day involves around 40 minutes of exercise – that’s all. But the mental effort required to step out into the cold air, or the teeming rain, can be quite challenging, especially after a long day at work often bookended by cycling 8 miles each way.
Yet this is one of the major deliverables of the project – to get you to overcome this hurdle and get out there; just as if it was a checkpoint on an Ultra where you had spent too much time resting and refuelling and needed to get back out on the trail. And to do this repeatedly until it becomes a mantra.

This is what Ultrarunning is all about – going beyond the usual. Mind over matter. Reading bodily signs and coaxing more out of a tired and flagging set of limbs. Resisting all temptation to nod-off on the sofa, or lie-in that extra hour.

I started December with a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis picked-up during checkpoint duty on the Lakeland 100 this year but which was taking an age to heal. The advice gleaned from the ‘literature’ (i.e. various online forums) seemed split between running through the injury or resting. I thought to try running steadily, without straining the PF unduly, and judge how that worked. Apart from one day where I was exceedingly tired, and the foot hurt mightily, this approach paid off and I am finishing the month feeling a good deal better (but not yet fully cured).

Memorable moments include running by the River Dee at night, in total darkness and silence, and splashing through the pounding rain and deciding as I was already so wet I may as well add a few extra miles. I noticed that the time between breathers grew longer and that my average pace quickened as the days passed. The month finished on icy tracks in Sherwood Forest, slipping my way through the final miles.

In the end I ran 304 km over those 31 days, and I can honestly say I would not have done so without the support and encouragement of my virtual friends. I now look forward to entering other such challenges and pushing myself even further. Well done colleagues!